Louth Cllr Anne Campbell
NEARLY €4m in rates owed by bad debtors has been written off by Louth County Council (LCC) as at December 31, 2017, according to the local authority's Monthly Management Report.
Cllr Anne Campbell noted that while €3,963,738 has been written off in rates, just €30,180 has been written off for rents.
“I'm struck by the difference. Ordinary people will be struck by the difference in write-offs for rates versus rents,” she said.
The figures contained in the Monthly Management report are debtor balances for collection rates at December 31, 2017. The figures are set to change when year-end accruals and claims are posted.
When the annual financial statements are completed, they are due to be presented to LCC.
LCC Chief Executive Joan Martin said: “Instead of writing off 100 per cent for vacant properties we now write-off 50 per cent. It's largely for vacant properties.
“We are not making additional concessions, we are making less concessions whether it's retail or commercial.”
Cllr Mark Dearey said: “In 2014, Louth County Council wrote off 45 per cent of its rates. It was the highest write-off in the country.
“Donegal had the second highest write-off rate in 2014 at 25 per cent. LCC was 25 per cent ahead of Donegal.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Frank Godfrey called for a fairer system of local property tax rates to be introduced, especially for elderly people living on their own.
Ms Martin said: “Property tax is not new or additional income. The old local government fund collected €25m between the two towns of Dundalk and Drogheda and the county.
“It's a different way of collecting money and less money is collected through the property tax than the local government fund.
“The money that's collected is just part of the general income. It goes across the budget. It's part of the money that balances the budget.
“We have over the last number of years increased the bad debt and there is a requirement for bad debt write-offs. It's a considerable amount of money to write-off. It's money we could do with.”